Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch has lashed out at Premier Anna Bligh after she announced in The Sunday Mail (31st July 2011) that every Queensland household could be forced to pay higher premiums or taxes to help subsidise insurance cover for people in flood?prone areas.
The infuriated Federal Member said it was high time the State Government started to realise that the impost on the Far North is already painful enough.
“If those in the south east corner are going to be subsidised for being in flood?prone areas, what about cyclone?prone areas like FNQ? Where is our subsidy? We are being shafted by insurance companies, being hit with increased rates, increased taxes and the list goes on. Where is it going to end?,” Warren Entsch said.
Mr Entsch said the higher charges in the wake of Cyclone Yasi are taking their toll on residents.
“Far North Queensland has been paying higher insurance premiums, higher building costs and higher freight costs due to being in a cyclone prone area for many years and people have just copped it on the chin and dealt with it. These costs have now snow balled since Cyclone Yasi hit, and it has gotten to the point that it’s unsustainable and people are finding it hard to keep their heads above water.
“Insurance companies are abandoning FNQ and walking away from providing strata title insurance, and rural insurance. Suncorp is a perfect example of a long standing insurer in Queensland which has withdrawn strata?title and rural insurance from this market and are focussing on other areas.
“There are instances of eight?fold increases in insurance premiums in the Far North and the flow on effects are quite profound in that this means very significant increases in body corporate fees. For people on fixed incomes they can no longer afford it. Between a very soft real estate market and the increases in body corporate fees through increased insurance costs, it is proving impossible for people to sell their units and therefore they are being forced to borrow to pay for their increased charges. We are not talking the high end of the market here either, we are talking people in very modest one and two bedroom apartments in the city.
“The impact is widespread as it also impacts on southern investors in our region who have bought a new unit and are now faced with these increased costs which can no longer be covered by rent,” said Mr Entsch.
This has all been brought about predominantly by the market dominance of handful of insurance companies according to the Federal Member.
“From my investigations and anecdotal evidence, this situation is being experienced exclusively in North Queensland. Where is the Premier’s support on this? I know the Premier is aware of the problem, yet we have not heard a whisper from her on the issue.
“If costs continue to increase it will send more people to the wall and just add to the unemployment queue that is already the highest in the country. I ask Premier Anna Bligh to explain to the people of Far North Queensland why we should be forced to wear the costs of all of this. What is the difference with spreading the pain to help those in the south?east corner, versus spreading the pain to help those in Far North Queensland by offering a subsidy?,” said Mr Entsch
The announcement of the cost subsidy for the south?east corner comes ahead of The Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal being wound up in a month’s time.
“It seems if you live in the south?east corner you are given special treatment and if you live in the Far North you are penalised and forgotten. I am demanding a fair go, this is not good enough,” he said.